(Photo by Lindsay O’Neil)
Surviving Drama at the Dinner Table
By Kyle Jane Heskett
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald said “Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds, they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.” This is a sad but often true statement. It Seems like when families get together drama is the result. This is particularly apparent during the holidays when friends and family of all kinds are brought together. But instead of seeing the holidays as a disaster waiting to happen, what if we saw it as an opportunity? If your family struggles with issues, perhaps this is the year you can mend those broken fences, build those bridges, and ignite the peacemaker that God has called you to be (Matthew 5:9).
As women in Christ we have the ability to fight against flesh and be the example we truly want to be. But how? It begins with changing our attitudes and intentions. There is a tendency to think that other people are the problem so they’re the ones that need to change. There may be truth to that but you can never force others to change. You have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to completely transform the conversation by how you act. The apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4-9 gives us a great example of transformation from the inside out.
There is so much wisdom packed into just four verses, but I want to focus on two key ideas. The first one is being thankful! How fitting with Thanksgiving approaching! Paul says “Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). We seem to forget the thanksgiving part of this verse because we like to go to God with all our complaints and problems. We can definitely go to Him with those, but having a heart of thankfulness helps us tap into that “peace that surpasses all understanding” Paul talks about in verse seven. When faced with family drama, don’t just focus on the negative. Recognize all the positives that are happening around you and ask God to help you with the negatives. This will also help you to “rejoice in the Lord always” as stated in verse four.
The second key idea is found in Philippians 4:8. Paul says to focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. That’s quite a list and if we are honest with ourselves, a list we don’t always live up to. Much like what 2 Corinthians 10:5 says about “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” stop and think if what you are dwelling over matches the list Paul gives us in Philippians. Is what we want to say to someone true or right? Are our thoughts noble and pure? Or are we only thinking about things that are immoral, mean, or crude? Your thoughts should be centered around God, not around yourself. What might help is, before getting together with friends and family, writing down your negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then writing down the opposite of those thoughts, thoughts that are in relation to the Scriptures. Sometimes it is easier to think through and visually see the positive things you can be dwelling on. I know this can be hard, but you are not alone in all of this. God promises to be with you. He will strengthen you and even if you fail, He will still be there to pick you up again.
“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
– Philippians 4:9 (NASB)
The holidays are around the corner and you might be put into difficult situations with the people around you. I would encourage you to take Philippians 4:4-9 to memory. Hebrews 4:12 calls Scripture “alive and active” and “sharper than any double-edged sword” with the ability to “judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Let Philippians 4, or any other verses that may help you, shape your attitude this holiday season.